The money is enough to fund 1000s of hospital beds, teachers’ salaries or soldiers’ wages. But instead it is being handed over to individuals some of whose involvement in extremism can be traced back to the Islamist scene in the early 2000s pic.twitter.com/tHNB8pIpzs
— Henry Jackson Society (@HJS_Org) February 25, 2018
The Henry Jackson Society on 25 February published a report called Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: How Islamist Extremists Exploit the UK Charitable Sector. In the press release on its website, the Society states that the British taxpayer has supported charities that are being, or have been, used by extremists to further a radical agenda. As becomes clear from the report, the examples and case study it presents are illustrative, not comprehensive. The figure of misappropriated funds, that the report calculates to stand at over £6 million, is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg. From the press release:
“The money is enough to fund 27,328 hospital beds per day, the annual salary of 234 infantry soldiers, or the salary of 264 new teachers – but instead, it is being handed over to individuals some of whose involvement in extremism can be traced back to the Islamist scene in the early 2000s.“
The full 200-page report (PDF) points out that a UK government review published in 2017 found that organisations were purposefully vague about their activities, but portrayed themselves as charities to increase their credibility. It also helps them exploit the Islamic duty to give to charity. As the report states:
“Charitable status affords Islamist extremists a number of benefits, such as being able to easily raise funds for strategic causes, access to taxpayer money through Gift Aid, access to a broader
community who may or may not sympathise with their goals, recruiting vulnerable beneficiaries to their cause, financing and providing a platform for extremist speakers and the dissemination of literature, access to wider audiences, and increasing the appearance of legitimacy and credibility.
Across the UK, a number of charities maximise the output of a network of Islamist extremists, from dawah (proselytisation) organisations, ‘academic’institutions providing speakers, online publications providing written platforms, television channels airing speakers and pro-terrorist prisoner advocacy groups, among others. These charities operate across the Islamist spectrum in the UK, including salafists and those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami.“
The Home Office chose not to make details of their findings public. Yet it is vital that this information is brought to the surface, because the evidence shows the great financial stakes involved and the important role tax money plays in financing extremist organisations:
“The review found that while a small number of extremist organisations received a significant proportion of their income from abroad, the majority did not, leading to the conclusion that ‘a comprehensive approach focused particularly on domestic sources of support for all forms of extremism is needed’.“
For the moment however, Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing finds that the UK’s legal framework is defective when it comes to preventing misuse of charity status. Therefore, the field is wide open for UK charities to give a platform to very extremist ideas.
To give but one example, both of the ideas involved, and the interconnected nature of the charities: in June 2010, the Islamic Dawah Centre International (IDCI) invited Zakir Naik to speak at a large event in Birmingham. Naik is the founder of Peace TV, a non-profit satellite television network, which is banned in Bangladesh, India and Canada. In India, Naik has been charged with promoting religious hatred. Indian Government Minister, Satya Pal Singh, a former police commissioner in Mumbai investigating Naik said:
“Indirectly he was supporting Osama Bin Laden, he was supporting all these terrorist elements, spreading the message of violence against non-believers, against non-Muslims. He was the merchant of hate.“
Not only did the IDCI think it prudent to invite Naik, it continues to sell his written work. And while Naik is now banned from entering the UK, he remains a trustee and chair of another UK-registered charity: Islamic Research Foundation International (IRFI). IRFI – banned in India since 2016 – has helped finance Peace TV, to an amount approaching £1 million. With this money, Peace TV made programmes featuring speakers that approve of slavery, proscribe segregation from non-believers (kafir), claim that a fitting punishment for homosexuals is death and recommend Female Genital Mutilation.
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, in short, is a bombshell. Read it.